Jackson honored for preservation of Potawatomi

Mayette, Kansas (ICC) June 2010

 The Language Department: Front
row, left to right, Cindy LeClere,
Cecelia “Meeks” Jackson and
Laverne Haag. Back row, left to right,
Billy Matchie, Leo Nadeau and
Larry Berryhill. Not pictured is
Olivia Pewamo.
Cecelia “Meeks” Jackson was honored during May of this year in a ceremonial dinner at the Prairie Band Casino & Resort for her life’s work on the Prairie Band Potawatomi (PBP) reservation and for helping to preserve the Potawatomi language. 

Over 200 people attended the dinner that was sponsored by Tribal Council and the Language Department. It was a surprise to Jackson, who is in her 90s, and celebrated the occasion with family members and friends.

Jackson has been instrumental for her ability to comprehend and bridge together four languages including Potawatomi, Odawa, Ojibwe and English for use in composition.  She has played a key role in the development of all Language Department documents and materials that have been created since the department began.  Through Jackson’s efforts a Prairie Band Potawatomi dictionary, two audio/video DVD books, and Stories of the Potawatomi book have been written as well as a grammar book that has recently been published and was presented to her at the dinner by Leo Nadeau of the Language Department.  

Former Language Coordinator Laverne Haag gave the keynote address and said that she had learned a lot from Jackson who, in her opinion, is the last remaining fluent speaker on the Prairie Band reservation.  Other members of the Language Department also voiced their appreciation of Jackson and children from the youth language classes sang a couple of songs in Potawatomi. In addition, Tribal Council presented Jackson with gifts and family members also came forth to praise the Potawatomi elder. In conclusion, the Little Soldier Singers and Drum group performed while members of the audience lined up to individually greet Jackson.